The Colonel: Luke Lea, Part II

By Ray Hill Luke Lea had not only survived the intense political wars in Tennessee, but had profited from them. Elected to the United States Senate in 1911, Lea’s alliance with “Independent” Democrats and Republicans had created a “fusionist” combine that held the governorship, both seats in the United States Senate and the Tennessee House […]

The Colonel: Luke Lea, Part One

  By Ray Hill The pages of Tennessee’s history is littered with colorful characters, but the life of Luke Lea is one right out of a novel; handsome, urbane, highly intelligent and successful, Lea climbed to the heights of financial and political accomplishment.  Lea would become one of the first publishing magnates and would be […]

Percy Priest, The Unlikely Congressman

By Ray Hill   Percy Priest was an unlikely candidate for Congress and faced daunting odds to get to the House of Representatives in the first place.  Yet once there, he remained there until the day he died. Percy Priest was once described by William “Fishbait” Miller, Doorkeeper of the U. S. House of Representatives, […]

Congressman John J. Duncan

By Ray Hill   For two decades there was no politician in the Second Congressional district more popular than John James Duncan. John Duncan had hitchhiked to Knoxville with five dollars in his pocket to attend the University of Tennessee and remained, rising to become Law Director and Mayor of Knoxville and eventually won a […]

‘Hillbilly Bill:’ Congressman J. Will Taylor

By Ray Hill   For twenty years, James Willis Taylor was the Congressman from Tennessee’s Second Congressional district. J. Will Taylor, popularly known to many of his constituents as “Hillbilly Bill,” was a power in both the national Republican Party and the Tennessee GOP. Born August 28, 1880 near Lead Mine Bend in Union County, […]

Congressman J. Ridley Mitchell of Crossville

By Ray Hill   Long forgotten by most, John Ridley Mitchell was a member of Congress for eight years and twice a viable candidate for statewide office in Tennessee. J. Ridley Mitchell was a formidable politician and a wily practitioner of the art of politics. Albert Gore, Sr., who succeeded Mitchell in Congress, once described […]

Congressman Robert A. “Fats” Everett

By Ray Hill   Long forgotten by most, the late Congressman Robert Ashton “Fats” Everett was one of the more colorful from the political pages of Tennessee’s history.  Everett was by any measure a political professional well before he ever was elected to Congress. Tall and weighing in at over three-hundred pounds, most everyone called […]

Congressman Finis J. Garrett

By Ray Hill   For more than two decades, Finis James Garrett represented a West Tennessee district in Congress. Garrett was a talented politician and his rise was meteoric. Winning a seat in Congress when he was barely twenty-eight years old, he rose to become the Minority Leader of the U. S. House of Representatives. […]

Congressman Ewin L. Davis

By Ray Hill   Someone once said. “Write what should not be forgotten” and ironically, I have forgotten who said it. Ewin Lamar Davis is little remembered today, but during his time he was an interesting figure and led a productive life. Born in Bedford County, Tennessee on February 5, 1876, Davis, one of several […]

Congressman Sam McReynolds of Tennessee

By Ray Hill Very few people remember Samuel Davis McReynolds, who was a long-time Congressman representing Tennessee’s Third District, which includes Chattanooga; yet during his time, he was a highly influential member of the House of Representatives. Quite likely, McReynolds’ career has been eclipsed by that of his successor, Estes Kefauver. McReynolds was born in […]

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